Barley is among the top five most manufactured grains all over the world. It is from a similar plant species like wheat, corn, oat, and rice. Even though barley has been around perpetually, it’s not as well known as rice, except in some regions.
Barley is cultivated either in a chilly environment or in a desert-like environment. The greatest makers of barley are from North Africa and North America. It is a highly nutritious meal with loads of carbs, fiber, and vitamins.
Barley is used in making different dishes, pastries, and brews. It is usually added to soups and stews.
Most individuals believe cooking barley can be stressful because it consumes time. More often than not, cooking barley is much simpler and faster than you might have expected. You just need to follow through the right recipe, and your barley will be ready within an hour or less.
Barley is a hearty meal with loads of nutritional value and health benefits. One cup of barley contains 13 grams of fibers. These fibers prevent colon cancer, breast cancer, constipation, and hemorrhoids.
Whole barley is an excellent source of carbs, fibers, vitamin B, manganese, copper, phosphorus, and calcium for strong bones. Vitamin B prevents blood clotting and reduces the risk of heart attacks and high blood pressure. Copper reduces arthritis and asthmatic symptoms.
Barley is not sans gluten. The gluten content in barley is lesser than that of other cereal. It is an excellent option for those trying to keep their blood sugar level in check, such as diabetic patients. Barley acts as a natural detoxifier when consumed regularly. It aids in weight loss and promotes healthy digestion.
Types Of Barley
There are various types of barley in the market. What differentiates the barley from one another is how they are processed after harvesting. Barley is broadly categorized into two; whole barley and refined barley. The type of barley determines the time required for cooking it.
The different types of barley are listed below.
- Hulled Barley: This is whole grain barley. The inedible hull is separate from the barley during harvest, and it is sold without being polished. Hulled barley has the highest nutritional value when compared with others. It takes a longer time to get cooked except when pre-soaked.
- Pearl Barley: This is the most common barley in the market. It is a more refined form of barley with all the outer husk and core germs removed during processing. The nutritional value is lesser than the hulled barley, and it can serve as a thickener. Pearl barley has a smooth texture and is creamy when served alone.
- Quick Cook Barley: This type of barley is parboiled before being packaged for sale. It is precooked and dehydrated. This is the most processed type of barley, and it takes fewer minutes to cook. It is very convenient and quicker to cook.
- Pot Barley: This is also a refined version of the whole barley. Unlike the pearl barley that undergoes several rounds of polishing, the pot barley is a less polished version with most of the bran intact.
Soaked Barley or Dry Barley?
Do you prefer to pre-soak the barley before preparing to reduce the cooking time, or do you love to cook it when it’s dry to get a more chewy texture? Well, whichever way you love, it is dependent on your preference and taste.
You don’t always need to soak the barley before preparing it. However, soaked barley requires less amount of water to cook than dry barley. If two cups of dry barley require six cups of water, soaked barley will take four to five cups of water to cook.
The cooking time for soaked barley is shortened by a maximum of 15 minutes. Soaking the barley also helps to reduce abdominal gas and aids digestion.
How To Cook Barley
You don’t need to be a professional chef or have advanced culinary skills before you cook barley. The cooking process is straightforward and seamless.
Here is a guide on how to cook the different types of barley with various heat sources and methods. The method of cooking and heat source determines the duration of cooking barley.
The cooking time of barley is dependent on the cook’s preference for how tender or chewy he/she wants it. You will find the simplest way to cook barley in less than an hour in this guide.
Before you cook the barley, you need to wash it with your hands in a big bowl full of water a couple of times to rinse off residues and dirt. Then you drain the water using a strainer.
How To Cook Barley With Different Heat Source
The different heat source for cooking barley is either with a stove or a rice cooker or an oven.
How to cook barley using a cooker or a stovetop
- 2 cups of any barley (rinsed and drained)
- 6 cups of clean water or stock
- Salt (to taste)
- 4-quart saucepan with cover
Pour 6 cups of water or seasoned broth into the saucepan and set it atop the stove or cooker. Allow the water to get hot before you put in your washed barley and add some pinch of salt to taste.
Stay close by so you can monitor the cooking process, because the barley will emit a ton of froth from the outset, which can make the pot bubble over. To prevent this from happening, you can leave the pot open for 5 minutes before covering it.
Readjust the heat source to low heat after the bubble has seized and leave to cook until it gets soft. Add extra water if necessary, to get a more chewy result.
Pearl barley cooks quicker within a minimum of 30 minutes, and whole-grain barley gets cooked within 40 to 50 minutes. Put off the fire and allow the barley to settle for about five minutes before serving.
Your barley is ready when it has significantly increased in volume, absorbed all the water, and is softer. Sift out the excess water, if any.
How To Cook Barley With An Oven
This method is used for baking the barley into a creamy or fluffy texture depending on the cook’s preference.
Preheat the oven for a few minutes. Then place the barley in a deep baking pan with a high rim. Add seasoned broth or boiled water to the barley with other aromatics to taste. Place a foil paper atop the barley before putting the baking pan into the oven.
Allow the barley bake for 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the type of barley. Then put off the heat. Remove the baking pan out of the oven, uncover the pan and stir the barley before placing the barley back into the oven for 10 minutes.
Using the pilau method to cook barley, you need to fry the barley in hot oil mixed with other ingredients and spices before adding your barley with hot water or seasoned broth. Then you cook until it becomes crunchy.
The oil is mixed with other green veggies and spices such as shallots, green pepper, thyme, curry, ginger, garlic, carrots, and onion.
How To Preserve Barley
The life span of barley is dependent on the processing. The refined barley lasts longer than the whole barley because the core layer with germ has oil that causes rot.
Barley can be precooked and refrigerated for days before consuming. It can be added to soups, salads, and stews. Cooked barley can serve also as a side dish during a complete course meal. Uncooked barley can be preserved in a cool, dry place for months.
Barley can be cooked and served in various ways beyond your knowledge and imagination. It is a nutritious meal with great health benefits. Barley is accessible in most supermarkets and food stores.